Notes from the garden shed: April 2017

Fungi have been on my mind recently or, more precisely, on my trifle!  Yes, even my beloved trifle (in the fridge) has succumbed to a deadly attack from a grey mould. It’s got me thinking about what a mixed relationship we have with this kingdom, separate from plants and animals. Perhaps we’ve all personally suffered attacks from said kingdom – the dreaded ‘athlete’s foot’ or dandruff – but us gardeners at the Skip Garden have other uses for this family.  Firstly, without a good range of fungi, our compost wouldn’t decompose so quickly or so well and now we add mycorrhizal fungi to our soils to make a symbiotic relationship with our plants' roots, getting much better health and growth – so, love them or hate them, we really couldn’t live without them.

Now here’s a strange fruit! Marta, our ex-intern and now roving reporter in South America, sends these pictures of the Tree Tomato or tamarillo.  A native to the western counties of South America, it’s very popular and is cultivated in many gardens and small orchards, mostly for local production. Marta says she tried it in a juice and it was very tasty!

Birds are in full breeding mode now, busy pairing up and building nests - if you’ve attracted them to your garden over the winter then you’ll reap the benefit now when they start feeding their young. If you’re lucky enough to have either Blue Tits or Great Tits around, then watch out any caterpillars on your cabbages! Blue Tits especially are known to bring food to their nestlings every 30 seconds – think how many caterpillars that represents over two weeks!

Great Tit on the left / Blue Tit on the right.

Great Tit on the left / Blue Tit on the right.

Sweet Potato flowers amongst the edible leaves.

Sweet Potato flowers amongst the edible leaves.

Our Sweet Potato slips (rooted shoots) have arrived, ready to plant out in both our 12m polytunnel and the mirrored Broadgate beds just outside the Skip Garden. This is nice and early, so we’re hoping that this year (after a bit of a late start last year) we’re going to see their flowers, and, being a close relative of Morning Glories, they are rather wonderful, don’t you think?!

Watch out for night frosts and keep an ear out for the ‘dawn chorus’ - one of the great glories of this time of year.